Protecting civil rights leads to jail in Sichuan
Recent arrests in Sichuan over demonstrations in defence of civil rights indicate that the “authorities seem extremely concerned with ‘stability’ in Sichuan,” as the government officials there have become more aggressive against rights activists recently.
3/24/09 China (AsiaNews) Working on behalf of civil rights is banned in Sichuan. In Chengdu four activists have been arrested and ten more have been summoned for taking part in and reporting on two recent demonstrations in defence of civil rights. Two trade union members have been jailed for protesting against unpaid wages.
Huang Xiaomin, Xin Qingxian, Lu Daqun and Yan Wenhan were arrested between 28 February and 1 March on suspicion of “disturbing the social order” but Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) has been able to report it only now.
The four reported on two local protests. First, some 30 Chengdu residents chained themselves together outside the city’s Intermediate People’s Court on 23 and 24 February to protest against what they believed to be unfair rulings handed down by the court over the years. Second, a victim of forced demolition, Yuan Xinggen, injured six policemen when he resisted his impending eviction with kerosene and firecrackers on 20 February.
In addition to the four arrests, police summoned for interrogation more than ten activists present at the protest near the courthouse, including writer Xian Qi and workers’ rights advocate Zeng Rongkang. Both were releases after receiving a warning against taking part in similar actions.
“Government authorities seem extremely concerned with ‘stability’ in Sichuan,” said Songlian Wang, CHRD Research Coordinator. “Since last May, Sichuan authorities have been aggressive in detaining activists for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. These individuals have broken no laws. [. . .] We have noted a coordinated effort in silencing dissent in Sichuan Province and its neighbouring areas,” he added.